The capital

So you want to see the “real Bali”? Spend a night in Bali’s sprawling capital, Denpasar. Really. Sure, it’s not paddy and gamelan, but amid the shopping malls, traffic congestion and challenging footpaths a wealth of riches awaits: temples, palaces, friendly locals, great food and even a bit of green space—plus hardly another tourist in sight.

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Positioned between Kuta to its south, Ubud to the north, and Sanur to the east, Denpasar spreads its grasp all but merging with the three. So where’s the airport? Well you may ask: Bali’s airport may be called Denpasar, but it’s closer to Kuta.

Get a taste of local life at Pasar Malam Kereneng, Denpasar's lively night market. : Sally Arnold.
Get a taste of local life at Pasar Malam Kereneng, Denpasar's lively night market. Photo: Sally Arnold

Prior to colonial times, Denpasar was the seat of the Rajas of the Badung kingdom and an important trading centre—hence the word pasar, which means market, in its name. The palaces and indeed the markets are still part of the modern urban landscape. In 1906 the Dutch, who had already gained control of North Bali, invaded, but the royal courts refused to submit. Instead, they committed a ritual mass suicide, or puputan, which is today commemorated by both Puputan Square, and the Bajra Sandhi Monument, two of Denpasar’s landmarks.

After independence, the former Dutch administrative capital was moved from Singaraja, near Lovina in the north of Bali, to Denpasar, and in 1958 it officially became Bali’s ibukota or capital (literally ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 600 words.)

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